Related Spouse Articles

Military Life 101

  • job fair
    Military Spouse Employment 101
    Military.com
    While the military will always throw a monkey wrench in any best-laid plans, your career doesn't have to be one of them.
  • (Photo: U.S. Department of Education)
    Military Spouse Education Help 101
    Military.com
    Good news for you: Being a military spouse can actually make some parts of going back to school easier.
  • (Photo: U.S. Navy)
    Military Life 101
    Military.com
    Military life has a lot of nuts and bolts. You know, the little things that make up just an ordinary day.
  • stack of one dollar bills
    Military Spouse and Family Benefits 101
    Military.com
    Don't know exactly how to get your military spouse and family benefits or want to know more about what they are? Read on.
  • Movers at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, load up a truck with household goods. Jose Ramirez/Air Force
    Military Spouse and Family Moves 101
    Military.com
    Whether you're an old pro or new to the military moving game, there's stuff to learn about PCSing. Here's our easy PCS 101 guide.
  • (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)
    Military Family Deployment 101
    Military.com
    Preparing for deployment can seem like an uphill battle. But we've been there. Here's what you need to know.
  • Military family
    Military Family Life 101
    Military.com
    Military life is not easy, but we've got your back. From marriage to kids and parenting, we have the resources you need.

Hard Target: Stay Safe When You're Alone

Learning to protect yourself

Attackers fear failure. That is why lions attack weak gazelles. Terrorists prefer defenseless targets. Rapists sometimes "interview" their prey to see if they will submit.

As part of my work for the private security firm Gavin De Becker and Associates, one of the most important things we do is to teach women to make themselves hard targets. We want women to look like crocodiles to potential attackers, not gazelles.

As a former Marine, I know this is especially important for military spouses and girlfriends like you to keep in mind during your service member's deployment. You might be alone more often, but this doesn't have to mean that you are more vulnerable.

Instead, you can make yourself a hard target. Walk with a purpose, and when you are alone don't appear weak. 

Speak with authority when a stranger approaches and never negotiate your own security with a stranger in the name of politeness. Avoid soft responses like "maybe." Or "Sorry." Or "I think I've got it." Instead, you need to be firm and say "No."

You can practice this skill by looking at this scenario: Picture yourself exiting the grocery store after a long day at work.

It is after dark and you are lugging heavy grocery bags toward your car. You fish for your keys, pop the trunk. Then you hear a male voice say, "I'll help you with that."

You freeze. Though his voice and his offer seem objectively normal, an uncomfortable pause still cripples your breath.  

You might be thinking, This is bad. It doesn't feel right, I just want to get in my car, lock the doors, and escape this dark parking lot.

As you vibrate with fear, do you respond to the stranger with a smile and "Ah, no thanks, I got it?" 

What do you do when the stranger steps even closer and says, "C'mon, those bags are heavy?" What if he grabs a bag and smirks, "You bought cat food. I'll bet you live alone."

What do you do? Do you relent and give him more control of the situation? 

This is the moment that divides the crocodiles from the gazelles. This is the moment that the fear you feel is your signal to respond with power because, more than anything else, attackers fear failure.

When I deal with clients, I teach that you need to turn toward this stranger, raise both hands in the stop position, and say firmly, "No. I don't want your help!" 

You don't give him an inch or let him gain more control. You turn your No! into a complete sentence and take charge of your personal safety. You let him know you are not a soft target.

No is not a negotiation and it's often not polite. No is powerful. It is your line in the sand. No delivered like this says, "I'm not an easy target. Now go away." 

Next time you really do need help with your grocery bags or anything else, don't wait for help, ask for help -- and I recommend that women ask other women for help.

Finally, remember that No is a complete sentence pronounced with strength and power -- not politeness or negotiation.

As a military spouse, it is important that you learn more about keeping yourself safe and avoiding danger. I recommend reading the national bestseller, The Gift of Fear.  It can give you the confidence of No when you need it most.

-- Ed Hinman is the Director of Recruitment, Selection, and Training at Gavin de Becker & Associates, a private security firm based in Los Angeles, providing threat assessment and executive protection for the nation's most at-risk public figures and organizations. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Hinman served eight years in the United States Marine Corps before beginning his security career in Los Angeles.

Related Topics

Self Defense Family and Spouse

Military News App by Military.com

Download the new Military.com News App for Android on Google Play or for Apple devices on iTunes!

Featured VA Loan Articles

  • VA Loan Closing Costs: An Added Benefit
    Besides the advantage of requiring no down payment for qualified VA borrowers, there's also a distinct advantage for the borrow...
  • White suburban home.
    IRRRL Facts for Veterans
    Military.com
    IRRRL stands for Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan,also known as a "Streamline" or a "VA to VA" loan.
  • US Map Showing High Cost Counties
    VA Loan Limits for High-Cost Counties 2017
    Military.com
    The VA loan limit for 2017 is $424,100. But it could actually be substantially more if you buy a home in a high-cost county. Se...
  • Get the FAQs on VA Home Loans
    We've answered 16 of the most frequently asked VA Loan Benefit questions. View them now to get a quick understanding of your be...
  • Top 3 VA Home Loan Tips
    There are numerous advantages to having a VA mortgage. A VA mortgage loan can be guaranteed with no money down, in some cases u...
© 2016 Military Advantage